We are halfway through 2016 and entrepreneurs and small businesses are emerging from the ether, all with the goal of trying to fill a void in the marketplace. When your company is just starting out, defining a comprehensive office strategy is an understandably low priority on your "to-do" list. You started this company in your basement, who needs an office? Even the word "office" triggers thoughts of higher expenses and more headaches. However, if you take some time to strategize and put the right plan in place, your office space can help your business tremendously.
You've most likely heard of or utilized one of the new co-working spaces that are popping up throughout the country such as WeWork or Make Offices. While this is a good start, it's important to keep in mind these places are launch pads for your business, not a long-term solution. Your office location goes from minor detail to important business priority much quicker than you would anticipate.
Want to attract the most talented employees and make a lasting first impression with clients? Your office space can help with that. Creating an office space that is aesthetically pleasing to your clients and ideal for your employees is an absolute must as you go from small to mid to large business. Location, location, location applies to commercial real estate the same as residential. Your office needs to be located in close proximity to your clients as well as help establish and cultivate your corporate brand.
Don't grossly underestimate how much time it takes, do what many successful companies do and appoint a strong multi-tasker to take the lead. Be cognizant of your specific business goals and use these tips to start shaping a strategy.
1) Not Using a Tenant Advisor – A Tenant Advisor understands the market inside and out. They know which spaces in which buildings are being offered and at which price. They will know which buildings will and will not work for your company. Your "go-to" expert for commercial real estate, a Tenant Advisor can negotiate the best deal for you and include provisions such as expansion or termination options.
2) Lack of Planning – Like I mentioned above, finding the right office for your company can take time. From figuring out exactly how much space makes sense for your company based on number of employees and your company's projected growth to figuring out exactly which market you'd like to be in, it takes time. That's not to say that you can't find a built-to-suit office and move in less than a few months, but those can be a dime a dozen depending on your market. Utilizing a full service Tenant Advisor can help you with space planning drawings to decide how much and how your space should be used.
3) Leverage your Leverage – It is easy to look at your current lease expiration and think, "I have 3 months left – plenty of time!" In fact, 6 months could already be too late to get the proper leverage needed to get you the best deal. Landlords are in the business of filling their buildings – and keeping them filled. This means that if a Landlord knows one of their tenants are looking at other options, they will be more likely to negotiate a better deal. If you leave the office search to the last minute, a landlord will know this and use it to their advantage, knowing that you do not have any other options but to stay with them. This brings me to the next point of…
4) Underestimating the Length of Process – Depending on how large your company is and how much space you will need, renewing your lease or relocating can be time consuming. From the time your company engages a Tenant Advisor, tour properties, and negotiate the lease, it's not uncommon for it to become a 6-12 month process. Sure that can seem long, but finding the right Tenant Advisor will make the process a lot easier on you and your company.
Bottom line, real estate transactions can be complicated. The amount of work involved in planning your office move or renewal is critical and if not done correctly can have devastating impacts on your growing company. Letting your commercial real estate advisor do what they do best will allow you to continue growing your company with minimal disruptions and lead to a great partnership going forward.